Lee Pitts: Your Last Supper
I’m hearing more and more talk about food shortages due to the war, broken supply lines and the fact that inflation is running so hot even wealthy people will soon be living on beans and wieners. Or they won’t be able to afford to eat at all.
My father was one of those Okies John Steinbeck wrote about in the Grapes of Wrath and he lectured us constantly that we were lucky because once his family of eight made it to California during the depression there was a big sign at the border that said, “Okies go home.” Needless to say, this wasn’t the “Land of Opportunity” they were expecting and there were countless times his family didn’t know where their next meal was coming from. That kind of emotion scars you for life.
That’s why growing up we always had a huge garden, a washhouse with Mason® jars covering every inch of available wall-space filled with green beans with chunks of ham, pickled peaches, all sorts of jellies and jams, salsa, and countless other fruits and vegetables that my mom canned every year in her pressure cooker that always sounded like it could blast off at any minute. In our pumphouse we also had a huge freezer filled with meat from animals we raised. We also had 30 laying hens that gave us about two dozen eggs every day that I wouldn’t eat even if I was starving because I knew where those eggs came from.
So I was lucky, I grew up never wondering where my next meal was coming from.
When I hear pundits talk about upcoming food shortages the words of my father haunt me because my wife and I currently not only don’t have a garden, we also don’t have a pumphouse filled with food and our only freezer is a small one that can hardly hold four quarts of ice cream, some ten year old colostrum, ice packs for our arthritic joints, some ancient plastic containers full of mystery meat, and three ice cubes. Food wise, we mostly live week to week and I know this is not smart and it does give me a sense of food insecurity, especially when we go grocery shopping and see that all the Spam® and Velveeta® have already been gobbled up.
I can easily envision a circumstance down the road where consumers get real spooked like they did with toilet paper. Only when people start to horde food it will become an even more horrendous pain in the patoot than when they were stockpiling Charmin®.
I used to have two fall-back positions. For the first 30 years of our marriage I never worried where my next meal was coming from because my wife worked as a checker in a grocery store owned by her uncle. I felt pretty confident that for a high enough price he’d let us shop after hours. But now that she’s retired and her uncle is dead I have no inside connections.
My other fallback position was my neighbor who 30 years ago bought a year’s worth of food and put it in his bomb shelter left over from the 1960’s Cold War. I often have visions of my neighbor resting comfortably in his Lazy Boy, 40 feet underground, eating dehydrated peas, piñon nuts and M & M’s, while I’m hiding under my desk as we were instructed to do by our teachers counting on it to protect me from the nukes launched by crazy Khrushchev, who was even nuttier than Putin, believe it or not.
My neighbor calls his secret stash “Mormon MRE’s” (meals ready to eat) because the Mormons believe in having at least one year’s worth of food on hand, and also because he was in the military and on occasion ate MRE’s. I’ve always made fun of him and his pessimistic outlook on life and I may have overdone it because now my friend tells me he’s not going to be neighborly and share ANY of his already expired fake food with me. So even if I get down on my knees and beg there will be no weevils with rice casserole, post-apocalyptic macaroni paste, dehydrated ramen noodles with chickpeas, desiccated Brussel sprouts or cardboard cookies for dessert.
Umm, yummy. I think I’d rather just go hide under my desk instead.
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